Journalist and HRD
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on August 11, 2021, regarding harassment and false charges against journalist Mr. Ranjan Sinha by the Bihar Police and health officials for reporting on mismanagement in a COVID ward.
Mr. Ranjan Sinha is a journalist based out of Gaya and works as a senior reporter with Hindi daily the Dainik Bhaskar.
Mr. Sinha received information regarding mismanagement in the COVID ward of the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital from a source. He decided to visit the hospital late at night to investigate the matter on May 23. He called the Hospital Superintendent, Mr. Harish Chandra, who asked him to come to the hospital the next day. However, Mr. Sinha refused and told him that he was entering the hospital following COVID protocol. Mr. Sinha entered the hospital and spent almost 1 hour interacting with the patients and doctors and also recorded a video about the whole situation of the hospital.
When Mr. Sinha was leaving the hospital, he was stopped by a group of employees from the hospital, who accused him of entering the COVID ward forcefully. The hospital superintendent called him over the phone and threatened him with consequences.
Mr. Sinha published a report on the mismanagement in the COVID ward in Dainik Bhaskar’s Gaya edition on May 25. After this publication, the hospital Superintendent filed a written complaint against him at the Magadh Medical Police Station. An FIR was lodged by the police without any preliminary inquiry.
This issue was extensively covered by the media and Mr. Sinha had asked for CCTV footage as proof. The hospital Superintendent sent a letter to the Superintendent of Police, Gaya, with a copy to the Thana Prabhari of Magadh Medical Police Station for the withdrawal of the complaint by him against Mr. Sinha.
The issue shows Mr. Sinha was framed in a fabricated case, threatened, and harassed in reprisal for his reports exposing mismanagement in the COVID ward where he was performing his duties as a journalist. It violates his right to exercise freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19(a) of the Indian Constitution.